Tag Archives: Jasta 5

28 March 1918 – 43 Squadron mauled

The German armies launched a fresh assault in the Arras area which up to now had held firm. It did again, thanks to a combination of clear weather and the ability of the RFC to finally put in place the defensive plans it had devised.

The squadrons that had flown south to assist now returned to the First Army area to assist with ground attack and artillery calling the main missions.

Once again the RFC suffered multiple casualties across many squadrons. 43 Squadron, operating in the Arras to Albert area were in the thick of the action that morning, claiming six enemy aircraft and two balloons but also suffering six casualties.

Cecil Frederick King

2nd Lieutenant Cecil Frederick King claimed an Albatross shot down and crashed in his Sopwith Camel (D1777) before being wounded and forced to return home.

Lieutenant Robert Johnstone Owen claimed one Albatross and a balloon in his Sopwith Camel (C8259) but was the shot down and taken prisoner by Leunant Rudolph Heins from Jasta 56.

John Lightfoot Trollope

Heins then also claimed Lieutenant Walter James Prier in Sopwith Camel D6404. Prier also claimed an enemy shot down, though he was taken prisoner.

Captain John Lightfoot Trollope MC claimed 2 enemy aircraft and a balloon before being shot down in his Sopwith Camel (C8270) by Leutnant Victor von Rautter from Jasta 4. He crashed behind enemy lines and sustained a very serious wound to his left arm that required amputation of his hand. He was taken prisoner, and later had his arm amputated after his repatriation. On the 24th of March Trollope had claimed seven enemy aircraft shot down.

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Charles Roland Massdorp

2nd Lieutenant Harold Towns Adams was seen to force down an Albatross in Sopwith Camel (C8267) before being shot down and killed by Leutnant Fritz Rumey of Jasta 5.

Finally, 2nd Lieutenant Charles Roland Maasdorp was shot down and killed by Leutnant Ernst Udet from Jasta 11. Udet later wrote about the combat (though Maasdorp was in fact South African):

It was because of Richthofen’s prejudice for flamers that I rather hated to report my 22nd victory. Mine had been a clear-cut win, and all that; still, my man did not come down in flames. As to the fight, you may judge for yourself.

My opponent was an Australian, Lieut. C. R. Maasdorp of Squadron 47 R.F.C., and the date was sometime in March, 1918. The action took place in the morning above a road leading from Albert to Raume. Maasdorp was flying a Sopwith Camel and I had my Fokker DR-1 (149-17). The fight started at an altitude of 1600 feet.

Both of us apparently decided to attack at the same time, but I managed to get slightly the better position and went at a him from a downward curve which forced him gradually lower. At 600 feet, we both a leveled out and went at each other full speed ahead, with both of our guns spitting bullets. Each of us held to our course. I knew one of us was going to get it. Down below I could see Courcelette and Thiepval.

Several shots tore through the wings of my machine and I could hear others singing through the air around me.

Shooting head-on at a plane is tricky business. The thing is to get the other man to waver to one side or the other and then you can get him. Maasdorp must have known that. I could tell that he was an experienced flier. He kept right on coming.

Flying is largely a matter of nerve. The man who can stick it out the longest wins. This scrap was really a duel of nerves. In the end I won; Maasdorp shifted his course ever so slightly. In the same instant I got him. His Camel turned completely over and with her engines still roaring in defiance, dove squarely into the middle of a big shell crater.

I descended several minutes later and went up to inspect the crash. I found that one of my bullets had gone cleanly through his head, killing him instantly. That’s why his machine somersaulted so suddenly. There was a dead man at the controls.

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16 March 1918 – A mixed days

With improved weather aircraft were much more active over the front today, none more so that 5 Squadron RNAS in their DH4s.

The Squadron first dropped 101 25-lb bombs on Etreux Aerodrome. One hangar was hit and a Gotha which attempted to get off the ground was seen to crash. Other aircraft from this squadron also dropped 28 25-lb bombs on Busigny Aerodrome and 65 25-lb bombs on Busigny Ammunition Dump.

Euan Dickson

On their way back from Busigny, the Squadron was attacked by 12 enemy aircraft from Jastas 5 and 56. Flight Lieutenant T Watkins and Squadron Commander Stanley James Goble, and Flight Lieutenant Euan Dickson DSC and Sub Lieutenant Walter Henry Scott both claimed to have shot down enemy Albatrosses. Dickson and Scott had both guns jam and then they ran out of ammunition. They were badly shot up with bullets entering the petrol tanks, the fuselage, planes and tail. Dickson received a bar to his DSC for the combat.

Their colleagues Flight Commander Leonard William Ormerod DSC and Flight Sub-Lieutenant William Lawrence Hill Pattison (in DH4 A7908) failed to return from the mission and were likely shot down by Leunant Josef Mai, from Jasta 5 for his 9th victory.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant George Musgrove Cartmell and Gun Layer R B Wilcox in DH4 N6005 were forced down by Leutnant Rudolph Heins from Jasta 56. Both were wounded in the crash. Wilcox returned to action soon after. Some reports suggest Wilcox later died of his wounds but I cannot find confirmation of this.

6 June 1917 – Big prep

British aircraft were active all over the front in preparation for tomorrow’s offensive, carrying out photography, bombing and reconnaissance. There were anumber of big fights, the largest of which took place between a 7 strong patrol from 54 Squadron RFC and six Nieuports of 6 Naval Squadron escorting 22 Squadron RFC and its FEs? They were set upon by  “a very large formation of Hostile aicraft” from Jasta 2, Jasta 5 and Jasta 12.

The British claimed eight aircraft downed, three of which were seen to crash. One of these was Werner Voss from Jasta 5 who suffered minor wounds after he was forced down by 6 Naval Squadron. Both Squadron Commander Christopher Draper and  Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ronald Francis Redpath.

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Charles Elliot Sutcliffe

Around the same time, Flight Lieutenant Fabian Pember Reeves, also from 6 Naval Squadron , was shot down and killed in his Nieuport 17 (N3204). Voss claimed this but it is also possible that his aircraft broke up manoevring.

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Edward Grevelnk

54 Squadron also suffered as Major Charles Elliott Sutcliffe in Sopwith Pup B1730 was shot down by Leutnant Hermann Becker from Jasta 12, and Lt Edward James Yzenhold Grevelink was shot down in Sopwith Pup A7306 by Vitzfeldwebel Robert Riessinger also from Jasta 12. Both were killed.

28 March 1917 – A good day for Jasta 5

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Keith Logan Caldwell

B flight of 60 Squadron was on an offensive patrol near Lens. Two of the Original five aircraft had dropped out due to engine trouble. The three remaining aircraft, led by Captain Keith Logan Caldwell attacked two enemy two seaters. They were then attacked themselves by three enemy scouts. Caldwell got into a one-on-one with one of the attackers eventually driving him off. 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Uriel Phalen in Nieuport 23 B1624 failed to return from the mission and was assumed killed. Leutnant Kurt Schuhmann from Jasta 5 claimed the victory though evidence is scant.

Jasta 5 then went to destroy a 25 Squadron photo reconnaissance  mission over Douai, about 12km behind the German lines. At this point the flight was down to 4 machines, three of which were lost.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Edward Harris Stevens and Lance Corporal C Sturrock in FE2d A32 claimed by Leutnant Kurt Schneider. They lost the undercarriage in the crash and Stevens was badly wounded
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    Aubrey de Selincourt

    Captain Aubrey De Selincourt and Lieutenant Harry Cotton in FE2d A6378 were forced down with a damaged engine and crashed – claimed by Leutnant Werner Voss

  • Lieutenant Thomas Noble Southorn and Lieutenant Vivian Smith in FE2d A6410 crashed when forced to land with a shot up engine and radiator – claimed by Vitzfeldwebel Otto Könnecke

All six crew members were taken prisoner but Stevens later died of his wounds. Aubrey De Selincourt later became a well-known author of classical and sailing books.

30 April 1917 – “Richthofen’s Circus”

Today saw a change in tactics by the German High Command. The fighter units attached to the Arras Corps at Douai were combined to form one group which could operate as a massed fighting formation. This group was immediately dubbed ‘Richthofen’s Circus’ by RFC pilots. This was a loose arrangement and the formal combination into a single unit did not in fact take place until June 1917.

The new group set off for the first time this morning. Their first encounter was with seven FE2d’s of a line patrol of 57 Squadron and three Sopwith triplanes of 8 Naval Squadron. Two of the FEs were shot down in the German lines and the crews taken prisoner.

  • Lieutenant Percy Thomas Bowers and 2nd Lieutenant Samuel Torton Wills in FE2d A6402 – shot down by Lothar von Richthofen from Jasta 11
  • 2nd Lieutenant Edward Dudley Jennings and 2nd Lieutenant John Robinson Lingard – shot down by Adolf Ritter von Tutschek from Jasta 12
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John Henry Ryan

A third FE2d (A6380) with Lieutenant John Henry Ryan and 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin Graham Soutten was shot up and crashed behind the British lines. Both were wounded but Ryan later died of his wounds. A fourth, with Lieutenant Charles Stewart Morice and Lieutenant Forde Leathey in FE2d A1966  was also shot up and crashed near Roclincourt. The crew were ok though. The triplanes succeeded after a bitter fight, during which several German fighters were driven down, in extricating the there remaining FEs.

The German group then turned away, joined a number of two seaters, and came across a formation of six Bristol Fighters on their way, escorted by five Sopwith triplanes, to reconnoitre a reported trench system east of Douai. There followed a continuous fight for twenty minutes in which three SE5s of 56 Squadron joined (Captain Cyril Marconi Crowe, Lieutenant John Owen Leach, and 2nd Lieutenant Maurice Alfred Kay). Two of the enemy aeroplanes were shot down and seen to crash and one SE5 – Kay in A4866 – was brought down in flames – killing Kay – by Edmund Nathanael from Jasta 5. This was the first SE5 lost in combat. In the end, the Bristol Fighters had to abandon their reconnaissance attempt and, with their Sopwith escort, fight their way home.

The enemy group, now numbering fifteen, turned south, followed by two of the Sopwith triplanes, and found a photographic formation of eight FE2b’s from 18 Squadron. The enemy fighters attacked and the two Sopwiths joined in the fighting which lasted half an hour. Two of the FEs were shot down:

  • Sergeant Thomas Whiteman and 2nd Class Air Mechanic James H Wynn in FE2b 6998 – by Leutnant Hans Klein from  Jasta 4
  • 2nd Lieutenant Stanley Harold Bell and Lieutenant David William McLeod in FE2b A5481

Both managed to make it back over the lines. Whiteman crashed in a forced landing wounding Wynn who later died. Bell also force landed but both crew were unharmed. The remainder, with the help of the Sopwiths, fought their way back home.

28 April 1917 – More of the same

Captain Albert Ball from 56 Squadron was out on a lone wolf patrol in his SE5 (A4850). First he claimed to have driven down a hostile machine near Noyelles. He then destroyed an Albatros two-seater west of Cambrai. Finally he waited above the clouds for any hostile machines to appear and saw a two-seater Albatros which he promptly pursued. The enemy put its nose down and fled.

When at about 500 feet from the ground Captain Ball’s machine was hit by anti-aircraft and most of his controls were shot away and the fuselage was very severely damaged. He got into a spin but righted it and returned to the aerodrome where he made a perfect landing. In the event he was only credited with the Albatross west of Cambrai (for his 36th victory) – though German records do not record any losses that day.

Jasta 11 was also at work again. Early in the moring Manfred von Richthofen brought down 2nd Lieutenant Reginald William Follit and 2nd Lieutenant Frederick James Kirkham from 13 Squadron in BE2e 7221. Both were taken prisoner but Follit died shortly afterwards of his wounds.

Later that morning another group from Jasta 11 clashed with 16 Squadron. Leutnant Kurt Wolff shot down 2nd Lieutenant John Victor Wischer and 2nd Lieutenant Arthur A Baerlein in BE2g A2745. Both were taken prisoner.

16 Squadron suffered further casualties when Captain Augustus Wieland Bird and 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Charles Perryman in BE2e A2896 – had their patrol tank hit. They wrecked the aircraft making a forced landing near Vimy. Perryman was injured in the crash.

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Eric Ogilvie McMurtry

Finally, Major Eric Ogilvie McMurtry And Lieutenant Harry Denver Mason were killed when their BE2e A2944 was hit by a British shell destroying the aircraft.

Last of all 2nd Lieutenant Clifford M Reece and 2nd Class Air Mechanic A Moult from 43 Squadron were shot down by Edmund Nathanael from Jasta 5  in their Sopwith Strutter A993.

7 April 1917 – 60 Squadron takes another beating

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George Orme Smart

Two flights of 60 Squadron were on patrol over Wacourt, some 4km over the German lines, when they were jumped by a five strong patrol from Jasta 11 led by Manfred Von Richthofen.

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Charles Sidney Hall

During the fight, 2nd Lieutenant George Orme Smart was shot down in his Nieuport 17 (A6645) – his aircraft was later found burnt out between the lines. Lieutenant Charles Sidney Hall in Nieuport 23 A6766 was also shot down in flames and killed. Their colleague 2nd Lieutenant Hamilton E Hervey was badly shot up in his Nieuport 17 (B1517) but managed to get back over the lines.

Richthofen, Kurt Wolff and Karl-Emil Shaeffer all made claims. The traditional record is that Smart was shot down by Richthofen but this seems to be a case of pulling rank by Richthofen and it is more likely he attacked Hervey as their records of the encounter are similar. This would leave Schaeffer as the victor over Smart. Kurt Wolff accounted for Hall.

Also shot down, but taken prisoner, was Captain Maurice Baxendale Knowles in Nieuport 17 A6773. He was attacked by Leutnant Wilhelm Frankl from Jasta 4.

Lieutenant Billy Bishop claimed to have shot down an Albatros Scout and a balloon destroyed, but there was no evidence to substantiate his claims. Lieutenant Alan Binnie also had a go at a balloon but it failed to set it alight.IMG_0919.PNG